Mariners’ Early Homers, Strong Start by Luis Castillo to top the Nats 8-4
SEATTLE (AP) — While the home run is always going to be part of how the Seattle Mariners find success offensively, a collective effort relying less on the long ball seems more satisfying.
J.P. Crawford and Eugenio Suárez both homered, Luis Castillo overcame a shaky beginning to pitch seven strong innings and win his first start since May 27, and the Mariners beat the Washington Nationals 8-4 on Monday night.
Seattle opened its final homestand before hosting the All-Star Game next month and needed its offense to come through as Castillo (5-6) wasn’t at his best early on.
But after two straight losses where all of Seattle's runs came via the homer, the Mariners won the opener with the Nationals thanks to a pair of sacrifice flies and three two-out hits that scored runs.
“There’s no better thing, better uplifting feeling in the dugout than when you’re coming up with those two RBIs,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “We've had some games like that where we talk about just keeping the line moving.”
Seattle's offensive punch did start with Crawford, who joined Washington’s Lane Thomas as both hit leadoff home runs for their respective teams.
Suárez homered leading off the fourth inning against Washington starter Trevor Williams, and Julio Rodríguez’s two-out RBI single pulled Seattle even at 3-3. Rodríguez finished with three hits and a walk.
Seattle’s three-run fifth inning against Washington’s Cory Abbott (0-1) proved to be the difference. Teoscar Hernández reached on an infield single and advanced on a befuddling error by first baseman Dominic Smith, who flipped a deflected groundball to first base with no one covering.
“We had one bad inning where we gave them extra outs and things got out of hand,” Washington manger Davey Martinez said.
Hernández scored on Suarez’s sacrifice fly, but it was Jarred Kelenic’s walk and stolen base that tipped the inning. Kelenic was originally called out attempting to steal second but a challenge by Seattle manager Scott Servais proved correct and the call was overturned. Kelenic scored on Mike Ford’s single, and Ford scored when Kolten Wong doubled to give Seattle a 6-3 lead.
The big inning for Seattle was amplified by the repeated playing of John Denver's “Take Me Home, Country Roads," which is currently Kelenic's walk-up song.
“When the crowd gets into it, man, I just feel like, as a team, we just feed off of that,” Kelenic said.
Thomas hit his 14th homer on the third pitch of the game and Smith homered in the second inning for Washington off Castillo. Thomas added an RBI double in the ninth inning and has a hit in 13 of his last 14 games.
Seattle’s ace settled down after giving up an unearned run in the third inning and six of the final 12 outs he recorded came via strikeout. Castillo allowed seven hits, struck out seven and snapped a personal four-game losing streak.
“It was very important. I had that streak; it wasn’t the best these past few outings for me, but it was important for me to go get that seventh and thank God we were able to come up with that one,” Castillo said through an interpreter.
Paul Sewald struck out Jeimer Candelario with the bases loaded to end the game for his 14th save.
The leadoff homers from Thomas and Crawford were a rarity for both franchises. Seattle last played in a game with dual leadoff homers on Aug. 13, 2013 against Tampa Bay when Brad Miller homered for Seattle and Ben Zobrist homered for the Rays.
The gap for the Nationals was even wider. It last happened on July 18, 2006 when Alfonso Soriano homered for the Nationals and Hanley Ramirez homered for the Marlins.
Washington selected the contract of RHP Amos Willingham from Triple-A Rochester and optioned RHP Paolo Espino to Rochester.
Nationals: RHP Jake Irvin (1-4, 4.71 ERA) will make his 10th start. Irvin has pitched at least five innings and allowed only one earned run in each of his past two starts.
Mariners: RHP Bryan Woo (1-1, 5.09) earned his first victory in his last start, allowing one run in 5 1/3 innings against the Yankees.